Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

US’s Oldest Mall Opens Up as Micro-Apartment Complex

In February of 2013, we took a look at Rhode Island’s Providence Arcade. Developer Evan Granoff was taking the top two floors of the 1828-built building–the US’s oldest indoor shopping mall–and converting them into micro-apartments. The 48 units, which range from 225-450 sq ft, were completed last October. There is already a waitlist to live in them.

The reasons for the popularity seem obvious. The tiny apartments are well-designed for the lightweight living single person, with built-in storage and cozy lounge areas. There are enough personal amenities to perform most of life’s essential tasks like a private bathroom and basic kitchen. And there are enough shared amenities like a laundry room, bike storage and a game room for the extras. The covered arcade that the apartments look out into provides a very cool setting to live. And–almost certainly the most important factor–rents for a furnished apartment begin at $550.

The innovative project earned the 2013 AIA RI Design Award for Historic Preservation, the 2014 RI Smart Growth Award for Outstanding Smart Growth Projects, the 2014 Rhody Award for Historic Preservation, and was featured at REHAB 2014, an international preservation conference held in Portugal.

To our eyes, Providence Arcade as well as the Northwest’s micro-apartments underscore the need for non-subsidized (i.e. no bureaucratic hurdles to clear to rent), clean, affordable, centrally-located housing. Apparently for many, large apartment size is a pretty low priority–at least weighed against these other criteria. The fact that the Arcade uses such an interesting, existing, historic structure makes it all the cooler. We hope to see many more projects like it.

  • Gm.

    Beautiful sites. If only more malls would go this way! Less stuff, more living.

  • Jill

    550 A MONTH! Did I read that right? Even where I am originally from in rural MO you can’t find a ancient tin can trailer for that low.

  • adorita

    We should expect fewer malls, more online shopping in the future. This is a great solution. Its popularity also proves that many ppl prefers quality over quantity.

  • Ani

    Love it! I’d move to RI for a sweet deal like that! Nothing like that where I live; even studio apts here, which are rare as hens teeth, are way more than that unheated, and heat is pretty expensive in this locale.

  • Tj Teer

    It makes me SO angry that Southern California has not jumped onto this micro apartment thing yet. I can’t find anything!

  • Elise Rothman d’Hauthuille

    Making something useful out of a mall. Great, so useful and lovely.

  • PPaulNYC

    One major obstacle and fail aspect of micro apartment movement is accessibility. Everything is Luxurious – code word for most of you can afford it.

    Shutting our are young folks with limited economic means and yes race and ethnicity are certainly affected.

    Until we rethink these social and economical issues like all real estate models and recent trends with benefits the few rich folks.

    This movement should base on the sustainability philosophy. A synergy where economic, social and environment come toegether to make housing affordable to all.